Authors: Ruben Durante and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya

Journal of Political Economy

Politicians may strategically time unpopular measures to coincide with newsworthy events that distract the media and the public. We test this hypothesis in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We find that Israeli attacks are more likely to occur when U.S. news on the following day are dominated by important predictable events. Strategic timing applies to attacks that bear risk of civilian casualties and are not too costly to postpone. Content analysis suggests that Israel’s strategy aims at minimizing next-day coverage, which is especially charged with negative emotional content. Palestinian attacks do not appear to be timed to U.S. news.